Malaysia: Sabah drafting law to protect sharks, stingrays

Olivia Miwil New Straits Times 22 Jun 18;

KOTA KINABALU: The state government is drafting fisheries management legislation, with a particular focus on the protection of sharks, stingrays and other endangered marine species.

State Agriculture and Food Industries Minister Junz Wong said his ministry wanted to be the governing body on fisheries.

Speaking at the Sabah Sharks and Rays Forum 2018 here, he said the state’s Park Enactment 1984 and Wildlife Conservation Enactment 1997 did not specifically provide protection for sharks and stingrays, which were in decline.

He said the new legislation would give the state better control on areas such as trade and protection of marine species.

“Should the ministry become the governing body on fisheries, we will work hand-in-hand with the state Tourism, Culture and Environment Ministry to strike a balance (between fisheries and tourism),” he said, adding that he hoped the process, which required the approval of the Attorney-General and collaboration with stakeholders, would not take too much time.

Wong said he was also looking forward to the amendment of the national Fisheries (Control of Endangered Species of Fish) Regulations 1999 and Fisheries Act 1985 to allow the state to provide better protection for sharks and stingrays.

Earlier at the forum, state Fisheries Department assistant director (marine resource management) Lawrence Kissol said six species – great hammerhead shark, smooth hammerhead shark, winghead shark, reef manta, giant oceanic manta and oceanic whitetip shark – would be included in the amendments to the federal laws, pending the approval of the Attorney-General by year’s end.

There are 50 shark and 66 stingray species in Sabah waters. Sharks and stingrays are usually caught unintentionally by trawlers, which account for up to 70 per cent of catches, followed by gill nets, longline and handline fishing.

Last year, Lawrence said, 697 metric tonnes of shark (0.43 per cent) and 1,507 metric tonnes of stingray (0.93 per cent) catches were recorded by the department.

“The state government does not allow sharks and stingrays to be listed under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora for export,” he said.

“Since 2000, no new trawling licences have been issued and the government stopped giving fishing licences to vessels from five countries in 2015.”

Sharks are worth more alive than dead, as they contribute RM220mil yearly to Sabah's economy via dive tourism
fatimah zainal The Star 22 Jun 18;

KOTA KINABALU: Sharks are worth more alive than dead as they contribute some RM220mil to Sabah's economy, and traditional eating of shark meat should be balanced with conservation and tourism, a major forum here was told.

Semporna, a town in eastern Sabah, is a world famous diving haven and revenue from diving activities reached about USD55.3mil (RM221.85mil) a year, Dr Johanna Zimmerhackel of the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) told the Sabah Sharks and Rays Forum 2018 in Kota Kinabalu on Thursday (June 21).

Of this, shark diving made up USD16.6mil (RM66.6mil) and taxes collected from this amounted to USD3.6mil (RM14.44mil), she said.

The balance comes from various economic spin off activities such as hotels, restaurants, transport etc

image: https://content.thestar.com.my/smg/settag/name=lotame/tags=

"Protecting sharks and rays or maintaining their state or increasing them is the key message of the study," said Dr Zimmerhackel.

This was the result of an updated study to assess the current economic value of the shark-diving industry in Semporna, following the 2012 Shark Tourism Economic Valuation Study, that was led by the AIMS.

"There are many different conservation strategies, and setting up a shark sanctuary is one of them," said Dr Zimmerhackel.

She said while a study is needed to see whether a shark sanctuary would be the most feasible conservation strategy for Sabah, it could improve the diving experience of shark divers who are at risk of taking their tourism receipts elsewhere if the shark situation in Sabah continues to dwindle.

However, the situation is not so simple, as sharks and rays are part of the diet of traditional communities around Semporna, and are often the by-catch by fishermen.

Research at Pulau Mabul by Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) found that the Bajau Laut (sea gypsies) traditionally dry shark meat and turn them into salted fish for their own consumption.

UTM tourism research head Prof Amran Hamzah said rays have also been traditionally part of the Suluk community's diet in a dish called tiyula itum (black soup).

"The general reaction from the locals is denial, general apathy, or saying that (killing of sharks and rays) is a 'one-off' spectacle and that it did not involve protected species," said Prof Amran.

He said there is a need to educate local communities on the importance of conserving sharks and rays and also to elevate responsible tourism as an alternative source of income for them.

Other groups at the forum also underlined that the new government should review existing laws on shark protection.

WWF-Malaysia marine policy manager Shantini Guna Rajan said the review could mean regulating sustainable exploitation or completely protecting a species by including it in the list of legislation.

"Most importantly, the federal and Sabah state government must sit together to discuss how to review the regulations," said Shantini at.

The forum saw local, regional and international top campaigners discussing legal advances in protecting these sea creatures plus research and awareness raising efforts in Sabah.

Semporna is the most important hotbed in Sabah for both tourism and fishing of sharks, and the east coast district has been a focal point for researchers and campaigners.

Youth NGO Green Semporna co-founder Adzmin Fatta said it is crucial to empower the youth to change the culture in their communities.

"This doesn't mean banning eating shark meat entirely but there needs to be a balance between conservation, livelihood and culture.

"Green Semporna has been doing awareness raising work and shark education projects in Semporna.

"We have appointed 32 young shark ambassadors from secondary schools there to promote shark conservation among their peers and communities," said Adzmin.

The forum happening on June 21 and June 22 in Kota Kinabalu carries the theme "Exploring Synergies between Fisheries, Conservation and Tourism".

It is jointly organised by Land Empowerment Animals People (Leap), WWF-Malaysia and Sabah Sharks Protection Association (SSPA).

It is supported by the Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Ministry, Sabah Fisheries Department and Kota Kinabalu City Hall.


Review of laws needed to protect sharks in Sabah
fatimah zainal The Star 23 Jun 18;

KOTA KINABALU: There is a need for the new government to review existing laws on shark protection as they are an important capital, say top campaigners.

WWF-Malaysia marine policy manager Shantini Guna Rajan said the review could mean regulating sustainable exploitation or completely protecting a species.

“Most importantly, the Federal and Sabah governments must sit down together to discuss how to review the regulations,” said Shantini at the Sabah Sharks and Rays Forum 2018 on Thursday.

The forum saw local, regional and international top campaigners discussing legal advances in protecting these sea creatures plus research and raising of awareness efforts in Sabah.

Semporna is the most important hotbed in Sabah for both tourism and fishing of sharks, and the east coast district has been a focal point for researchers and campaigners.

Semporna is a world-famous diving haven and revenue from diving activities reached about USD55.3mil (RM221.85mil) a year, said Dr Johanna Zimmerhackel of Aims.

Of this, shark diving made up USD16.6mil (RM66.6mil) and taxes collected from this amounted to USD3.6mil (RM14.44mil), she said.

“Protecting sharks and rays is the key message of the study.

“There are many different conservation strategies, and having a shark sanctuary is one of them,” said Dr Zimmerhackel.

She said while a study was needed to see whether a shark sanctuary would be the most feasible conservation strategy for Sabah, it could improve the diving experience of shark divers who are at risk of taking their tourism receipts elsewhere if the shark situation in Sabah continues to dwindle.

The forum also called for new methods of managing sharks that become by-catch by fishermen, noting that Semporna residents traditionally consumed shark meat.

A research concluded in March this year at Pulau Mabul by Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) found that the Bajau Laut (sea gypsies) traditionally dried shark meat and turn them into salted fish for their own consumption.

Meanwhile, UTM tourism research head Prof Amran Hamzah said rays had been traditionally part of the Suluk community’s diet, which uses its meat in a dish called tiyula itum (black soup).

“The general reaction from the locals is denial, general apathy, or saying that it did not involve protected species,” said Prof Amran.

He said calls to action included interventions to elevate the role of responsible tourism as an alternative source of income and educating local communities on the importance of shark and rays conservation.

Youth NGO Green Semporna co-founder Adzmin Fatta said towards this end, it was crucial to empower the youth to change the culture in their communities.

“This does not mean banning eating shark meat entirely but there needs to be a balance between conservation, livelihood and culture.

“Green Semporna has been doing awareness-raising work and shark education projects in Semporna.

“We have appointed 32 young shark ambassadors from secondary schools there to promote shark conservation among their peers and communities,” said Adzmin.

The forum, which ended yesterday in Kota Kinabalu, carried the theme “Exploring Synergies between Fisheries, Conservation and Tourism”, and was jointly organised by Land Empowerment Animals People (Leap), WWF-Malaysia and Sabah Sharks Protection Association (SSPA).

It is supported by the Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Ministry, Sabah Fisheries Department and Kota Kinabalu City Hall.

No comments:

Post a Comment